Q&A Part 3

Gray cat behind a cardboard box with a book, titled Endurance, held in the foreground
A cat knows a good thing when she sees it. The box, of course.

More of my updated Q&A with the wonderful Women and Words (sadly “on hiatus”). A lot of the answers are still good, and I’ve updated others. Here’s the rest of me.

Is there a book by another author that you wish you had written?

I don’t know that there’s another book that I would like to have written, since I’m pretty pragmatic about where stories come from. Could I have written an iconic story about civil rights injustices set in the South during the Depression in the POV of a small child? Hardly.

There are writers I envy: Barbara Kingsolver, Tana French, Dorothy Allison, Kelley Eskridge, and Nicola Griffith. A good envy. I want to be better. I reread almost all of Tana French’s The Likeness while writing Wishbone—the way she uses gesture, moves characters through a scene, evokes emotion through detail. Incredible stuff. I can dream. UPDATE: Add to this my rediscovery of science fiction through great writers such as Martha Wells, Arkady Martine, Becky Chambers, and others.

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver is a book I’ve gone back to numerous times. Feels practically perfect.

If time and money were no problem, where would you most like to go in the world?

I’d go pretty much everywhere (well, aside from places where I’d be killed for being who I am). I’d love to visit New Zealand, Australia, Africa, Austria, England, Antarctica, Costa Rica, Fiji (if only because of the name).

I could fill the rest of my life visiting the places in the U.S. I want to see, or revisit: the Pacific Northwest (before it all burns away), back to the Southwest, back to Maine, the Badlands. This country boggles me with its diversity and beauty.

And finally, what sorts of writing projects are next for you?

I have two novels in the “shitty first draft” stage. One I seriously started to sit down and work on when I finished Wishbone, even got the free 30-day trial of Scrivener (which six months later still has 23 days left). I’m very much ADD and not a multitasker, so I keep saying, once things calm down (promoting this book, big changes at work, house repairs, etc.), I’ll be able to settle down and get back into it. Hasn’t happened and I’ve given up worrying about it.

Writing Wishbone took a lot out of me. It’s not just that the story itself was difficult (and it was), but the actual writing, the bad writing, the trying to fix the bad writing, the depression of not being able to do what I want to do with my writing.

If I had known when I started what that whole process would be like, I might not have done it. I’m still a little traumatized by it. The sheer depths to which I go as a writer and the sheer terror of not being good enough for the story I want to tell is paralyzing.

I’m hoping to get back some of that bright, shiny joy that I felt when I first started writing. My characters used to shake me awake at night and demand I tell their story. Right now, there’s too much other noise in my head for them to get through. I’m not panicking, because I think I’ll get it back. It’ll just take time. I’ll never be one of those writers who can bang out two books a year.

I also want to get back to writing short stories. They are nice gap-fillers. I learn better with stories I can complete in six months, rather than five years. I have one finished and looking for a home. And I’m trying to come up with ideas for some of the calls for submission I’ve seen lately. But anthologies these days are so specific: ghost stories, horror, erotica, lesbian mad scientists (I wanted to write for that, but ran out of time before an idea hit me). Gone are the days when themes were broader (think Khimairal Ink or Read These Lips), though I got my start with a pirate story, so I can’t really complain.

UPDATE: One of those shitty first drafts became Endurance! The other is going to have to wait.

That’s it! That’s me. For more about my books, click their dedicated pages on the menu at top. And thanks!

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